this is my FATHER’S world

This is my FATHER’S world…..

Ronnie McBrayer: We are only the caretakers, God owns it all

RONNIE MCBRAYER | KEEPING THE FAITH

Near Rochester, New York, a prominent, cliff-like ridge erupts from the landscape and runs west for hundreds of miles: Through New York, across parts of Ontario, into the upper peninsula of Michigan, hugging the coastline of three of the Great Lakes, and finally terminating in Wisconsin, just north of Chicago, Illinois.

It is called the Niagara Escarpment, and gets its name from the fact that the Niagara River runs over this steep slope, falls 167 feet to the basin below, and forms Niagara Falls. All along the way, there are scenic views, high cliffs, beaches, caves, deep valleys, rolling hills, and a sprawling ecosystem with all manner of flora, fauna, animal life, and old-growth forest.

A poet and preacher would leave the parsonage of his little Presbyterian church in Lockport, New York, and hike all along the Escarpment. Into the wilderness he would trek, and from the top of the ridges he could look down on the extended country farms, the green valleys, and Lake Ontario in the distance.

That pastor’s name was Dr. M.D. Babcock, and before leaving for his walk in the woods, he would check in with his assistant by saying, “I’m go­ing to see my Fa­ther’s world.” He wrote a lengthy poem about those walks, a poem not published until after his untimely death in 1901.

A few of his verses were put to the tune of an old folk melody, and over the last hundred years, “This Is My Father’s World,” has become one of the most beloved and sung hymns of the English-speaking world.

I like to imagine Reverend Babcock sitting on a rocky bluff overlooking the New York wilderness, a pencil and paper in his hand. He nibbles at his packed lunch with the Great Lakes glistening on the horizon as the sun shines down: “This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears; All nature sings, and round me rings, the music of the spheres. This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought; Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas; his hand the wonders wrought.”

Everything that you “own” really isn’t yours. God has graced you with it for this time you have. Your family, home, any love you feel, this beautiful world – every “good and perfect gift” – the Apostle James wrote – “comes down from the Father.” It all belongs to God, and any claim of ownership is arrogance.

The only thing God doesn’t own – and the only thing his children can offer back – is gratitude. Dr. Babcock, in his journal notes, wrote that the Scriptural inspiration for his grand poem came from Psalm 50: “Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God,” and the awesome beauty that surrounded him simply pulled that gratitude from his heart.

In the words of the German mystic Meister Eckhart, words centuries old but ringing with eternal truth: “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘thank you,’ it will be enough.” Amen.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, blogger, speaker, and author of multiple books.

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Isn’t it funny

Funny how a $20.00 bill looks so big when
you take it to church, but so small when you
take it to the mall.

Funny how big an hour serving God looks and
how small 60 minutes are when spent
watching television, playing sports, sleeping
or taking a lunch break.

Funny how long a couple of hours spent at
church are but how short they are when
watching a good movie.

Funny how we get thrilled when a football
game goes into overtime, but we complain
when a sermon is longer than the regular
time.

Funny how laborious it is to read a chapter in
the Bible and how easy it is to read 200-300
pages of a best selling novel.

Funny how we believe what newspapers say,
but question what the Bible says.

Funny how people scramble to get a front
seat at a concert, but scramble to get a
back seat at the church service.

Funny how we cannot fit a gospel meeting
into our schedule with our yearly planner but
we can schedule for other events at a
moment’s notice.

Funny how we look forward to that big date
on Friday night, but complain about getting
up for church on Sunday morning.

Funny how we are rarely late to work, but
always late to church.

Funny how we call God our Father and Jesus
our brother, but find it hard to introduce
them to our family.

Funny how small our sins seem, but how big
their sins are.

Funny how we demand justice for others, but
expect mercy from God.

Funny how much difficulty some have learning
the gospel well enough to tell others, but
how simple it is to understand and explain the
latest gossip about someone else.

Funny how we can’t think of anything to say
when we pray, but don’t have any difficulty
thinking of things to talk about to a friend.

Funny how we are so quick to take directions
from a total stranger when we are lost, but
are hesitant to take God’s direction for our
lives.

Funny how so many church goers sing “Standing on the
promises” but all they do is sit on the premises.

Funny how people want God to answer their
prayers, but refuse to listen to His counsel.

Funny how we sing about heaven, but live
only for today.

Funny how people think they are going to
Heaven but don’t think there is a Hell.

Funny how it is okay to blame God for evil
and suffering in the world, but it is not
necessary to thank Him for what is good and
pleasant.

Funny how when something goes wrong, we
cry, “Lord, why me?” but when something
goes right, we think, “Hey, it must be me!”

Or wait…maybe all this isn’t so “funny” after all.

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Donuts…

DONUTS

There was a boy by the name of Steve who was attending school in Utah. Brother Christianson taught at this particular school. He had an open-door policy and would take in any student that had been thrown out of another class as long as they would abide by his rules. Steve had been kicked out of his sixth period and no other teacher wanted him, so he went into Brother Christianson’s class. Steve was told that he could not be late, so he arrived just seconds before the bell rang and he would sit in the very back of the room. He would also be the first to leave after the class was over. One day, Brother Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him. After class, Bro. Christianson pulled Steve aside and said, “You think you’re pretty tough, don’t you?”

Steve’s answer was, “Yeah, I do.”

Then Brother Christianson asked, “How many push-ups can you do?”

Steve said, “I do about 200 every night.”

“200? That’s pretty good, Steve,” Brother Christianson said. “Do you think you could do 300?”

Steve replied, “I don’t know… I’ve never done 300 at a time.”

“Do you think you could?” Again asked Brother Christianson.

“Well, I can try,” said Steve.

“Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I need you to do 300 in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it? I need you to tell me you can do it,” Brother Christianson said.

Steve said, “Well… I think I can… yeah, I can do it.”

Brother Christianson said, “Good! I need you to do this on Friday.”

Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room. When class started, Brother Christianson pulled out a big box of donuts. Now these weren’t the normal kinds of donuts, they were the extra fancy BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting swirls. Everyone was pretty excited-it was Friday, the last class of the day, and they were going to get an early start on the weekend.

Bro. Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, “Cynthia, do you want a donut?”

Cynthia said, “Yes.”

Bro. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?”

Steve said, “Sure,” and jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten..

Then Steve again sat in his desk. Bro. Christianson put a donut on Cynthia’s desk. Bro. Christianson then went to Joe, the next person, and asked, “Joe do you want a donut?”

Joe said, “Yes.”

Bro. Christianson asked, “Steve would you do ten push-ups so Joe can have a donut?” Steve did ten push-ups, Joe got a donut. And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten pushups for every person before they got their donut. And down the second aisle, till Bro. Christianson came to Scott. Scott was captain of the football team and center of the basketball team. He was very popular and never lacking for female companionship. When Bro. Christianson asked, “Scott do you want a donut?”  Scott’s reply was, “Well, can I do my own pushups?”

Bro. Christianson said, “No, Steve has to do them.”

Then Scott said, “Well, I don’t want one then.”

Bro. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked  “Steve, would you do ten pushups so Scott can have a donut he doesn’t want?”

Steve started to do ten pushups. Scott said, “HEY! I said I didn’t want one!”

Bro. Christianson said, “Look, this is my classroom, my class, my desks, and my donuts. Just leave it on the desk if you don’t want it.” And he put a donut on Scott’s desk.

Now by this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little. He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much effort to be getting up and down. You could start to see a little perspiration coming out around his brow. Bro. Christianson started down the third row. Now the students were beginning to get a little angry.

Bro. Christianson asked Jenny, “Jenny, do you want a donut?”

Jenny said, “No.”

Then Bro. Christianson asked Steve, “Steve, would you do ten pushups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn’t want?” Steve did ten, Jenny got a donut.

By now, the students were beginning to say “No” and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks. Steve was also having to really put forth a lot of effort to get these pushups done for each donut. There began to be a small pool of sweat on the floor beneath his face, his arms and brow were beginning to get red because of the physical effort involved.

Bro. Christianson asked Robert to watch Steve to make sure he did ten pushups in a set because he couldn’t bear to watch all of Steve’s work for all of those uneaten donuts. So Robert began to watch Steve closely. Bro. Christianson started down the fourth row.

During his class, however, some students had wandered in and sat along the heaters along the sides of the room. When Bro. Christianson realized this; he did a quick count and saw 34 students in the room. He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it.

Bro. Christianson went on to the next person and the next and the next. Near the end of that row, Steve was really having a rough time. He was taking a lot more time to complete each set. Steve asked Bro. Christianson, “Do I have to make my nose touch on each one?”

Bro. Christianson thought for a moment, “Well, they’re your pushups.. You can do them any way that you want.” And Bro. Christianson went on.

A few moments later, Jason came to the room and was about to come in when all the students yelled, “NO! Don’t come in! Stay out!”

Jason didn’t know what was going on. Steve picked up his head and said, “No, let him come.”

Bro. Christianson said, “You realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten pushups for him.”

Steve said, “Yes, let him come in.”

Bro. Christianson said, “Okay, I’ll let you get Jason’s out of the way right now. Jason, do you want a donut?”

“Yes.”

“Steve, will you do ten pushups so that Jason can have a donut?” Steve did ten pushups very slowly and with great effort. Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down.

Bro. Christianson finished the fourth row, then started on those seated on the heaters. Steve’s arms were now shaking with each pushup in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity. Sweat was dropping off of his face and, by this time, there was not a dry eye in the room.

The very last two girls in the room were cheerleaders and very popular. Bro. Christianson went to Linda, the second to last, and asked, “Linda, do you want a doughnut? Linda said, very sadly, “No, thank you.”

Bro. Christianson asked Steve, “Steve, would you do ten pushups so that Linda can have a donut she doesn’t want?”

Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow pushups for Linda..

Then Bro. Christianson turned to the last girl, Susan. “Susan, do you want a donut?” Susan, with tears flowing down her face, asked, “Bro. Christianson, can I help him?”

Bro. Christianson, with tears of his own, said, “No, he has to do it alone, Steve, would you do ten pushups so Susan can have a donut?”

As Steve very slowly finished his last pushup, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, having done 350 pushups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.

Brother Christianson turned to the room and said.

“And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, plead to the Father, “Into thy hands I commend my spirit.” With the understanding that He had done everything that was required of Him, he collapsed on the cross and died. And like some of those in this room, many of us leave the gift on the desk, uneaten

— Author Unknown

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A B C’s Advice to Parents about Children

ADVICE TO PARENTS ABOUT CHILDREN

A – Always trust them to God’s care

B – Bring them to church

C – Challenge them to high goals

D – Delight in their achievements

E – Exalt the Lord in their presence

F – Frown on evil

G – Give them love

H – Hear their problems

I – Ignore not their childish fears

J – Joyfully accept their apologies

K – Keep their confidence

L – Live a good example before them

M – Make them your friends

N – Never ignore their endless questions

O – Open your home to their visits

P – Pray for them by name

Q – Quicken your interest in their spirituality

R – Remember their needs

S – Show them the way of salvation

T – Teach them to work

U – Understand they are still young

V – Verify your statements

W – Wean them from bad company

X – eXpect them to obey

Y – Yearn for God’s best for them

Z – Zealously guide them in biblical truth

— Author Unknown

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Boundaries

There is a major confusion among Christians on the difference between loving your neighbor and enabling them. We chide ourselves for being selfish when we feel annoyed at the friend calling us to help yet again, we believe that we should be self-sacrificing with our time and say yes to everything and everyone who needs us.

Being compliant on the outside when feeling helplessly torn on the inside creates resentment in the heart. Not having boundaries results in the depletion of our joy and surprisingly strains our relationship with God.

Jesus did not come to make us spineless doormats. He came that we might have a life of abundance to the point of overflow through being filled with the power of the Holy Spirit to emulate the character of Jesus.

Studying how Jesus handled daily situations is the best way to learn how to truly behave like a Christian (Christ imitator.) Jesus had great boundaries. Setting boundaries is important because it trains people how to treat you.

Christian Psychologist, Dr. Henry Cloud compares us to a residential property. If a home doesn’t have fences or doors, people can trample on your grass, ride their bikes through your flowers and let their animals wreak havoc in your yard. Burglars wouldn’t even have to break in since there was no door. Neighbors would come over unexpectedly and wouldn’t even have to knock because they had been conditioned to just let themselves in.

How is that analogy playing out in your life right now? Do you feel like you have to say yes to everything? Do you feel guilty for saying no or even afraid that you won’t be needed anymore or unbearable conflict would arise?

Here are 4 biblical truths to help you set Godly boundaries in your life. Many of this teaching is based on the book, Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud.

1. Develop The Control of Your Self-Property:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love,joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:23-23
Being a pleaser is usually someone who is compliant on the outside and resentful on the inside and does not practice the spirit of self-control. Just like God doesn’t force anyone to change, you can’t force anyone to change either. However, you are in control of the property of you. As a protector of your heart and its’ treasures, you absolutely have the right to accept or not accept certain behavior on your emotional property. You can’t change anyone or force them to change, but you can maintain the boundaries of your self-property and let them know that their behavior is not acceptable with you.

2. Guard Your Heart.
Above all else, guard your heart, for from it flows the wellspring of life. –Proverbs 4:23
Although Jesus said that we should operate as a unified community, there are always separate properties in a community. When properties have fences, they are there to let the good in and keep the bad out. It is important to guard our well-being from intruders or clingers, but equally important to receive goodness, help and love by letting it in through opening the gate.
Jesus also says, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” -Matthew 7:6. This means if you’re wisdom, advice and time are not appreciated and valued by someone, by all means stop wasting it because you will eventually be hurt and left broken.

3. Know the Difference Between A Boulder and a Load:
This is my favorite one. Carry each other’s burdens,” says Galatians 6:2, “and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” This verse shows our responsibility to one another. Verse 5 goes on to say, that “each one should carry his own load.” The greek words for “burden” and “load” gives us insight into how to apply this to setting Godly boundaries.

The greek word for burden means, “excess burden” or burdens so heavy they weigh us down. This is when we are responsible to helping someone carry weight they can not carry on their own.
The greek word for “load” is “cargo” or burden of daily toil. These are the daily responsibilities that need to be carried out in order to function in life.

In this scripture, Jesus is calling us to help people do what they can not do for themselves, because that is what he did for us. However, we are each responsible for doing what we are capable of doing.
A good deciphering rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you are being asked to do something they are not ableto do or to do something they don’t want to do

There is danger in confusing helping someone with an excess burden and enabling a daily toil. Stepping in and not allowing someone to take responsibility for their self-property (self-control) takes away the natural opportunity to be empowered or sharpened in crisis.

4. Check Your Motives

If you are driven to do something out of any motive other than pure love and to bring glory to God… don’t do it at all.
Many of us know that we are being taken advantage of, even by the sweetest, most well-meaning people. Yet, we continue to drive ourselves crazy, dropping everything in order to come to their aid. Why do we do this? Some of us fear that if we stop helping, we will no longer be needed or will cause conflict and therefore will be discarded.
Here is a remedy for a fear of rejection or disrupted peace:

“Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.” Matt 10:11-14.

Jesus told his followers if a town rejects you, leave the town and shake the dust off your feet. He doesn’t tell them to stay and take abuse.

Setting boundaries is not being mean, it’s having self-respect. You cannot effectively love if you do not sustain your mental, emotional and spiritual health. Be prepared that some people will not adapt to your new boundaries well, which is fine. If someone leaves you because of your boundaries, then that was not a healthy relationship in the first place and you need to let the “bad” out of your fence to make room for the good to come in.

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Just a thought…


He who is grateful is never truly poor, and he who isn’t is never truly
rich.

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20 things I learned at 20

“20 things I learned at 20

1. You can have only one best friend and that best friend can only be you. Because you may come across a dozen lovely people but the only one who can keep the ‘forever’ promise is you.

2. Family is the most important. This is the only love that is truly unconditional and absolutely pure. They love you when you’re 5 and when you’re 18. They love you in your failure and your success. Their love doesn’t increase because it’s already at its maximum right from the beginning, it’s already infinite.

3. Cocktails and aerated drinks may soothe your taste buds but tea soothes your entire body. It’s warm and calming and well, healthy.

4. Your first kiss means nothing if it’s not with the right person. And the right person doesn’t mean your soulmate or someone who will never break your heart but someone who in that moment loves you as much as you love them.

5. You’ve written over 350 exams and you’ve got a perfect score in some and scored miserably in others but do you remember your 9th grade math score? Do you even remember 9th grade math? Education is so important but not the stress and competitive grading that comes along with it. If you get a low score or even fail, not much will happen – you will get a retest. But if you get ill – mentally or physically, it will have undesired long term effects.

6. In 8th grade your school psychologist told you that you’re one of the few people who walk in life with open arms loving and helping everyone, not because you haven’t bled but because you know you will heal and have the strength to do so. At that point you laughed at her but now, years later you’re loving, accepting and helping in spite of having both, actual and metaphorical scars.

You’re kind and admitting that doesn’t make you conceited.

7. Goodbyes don’t always have to be dramatic. Writing an 800 words message won’t make it hurt any less than an 8 words one. Closure usually has not much to do with the ones who wronged you but with taking your time in dealing with all the stages of grief. Some stage like anger may take only a month but acceptance may take years and that’s okay.

8. Jealousy is a basic human trait. They can be the closest to you and yet envy your happiness and life. Envy is something you too experience and you can be happy for them and be sad for yourself at the same time because so bitter it is to view happiness from someone else’s eyes. You aren’t a horrible human being if you feel like there are better shades of green your grass could be.

9. Read at your own desire and pace.

You don’t have to read particular books to qualify as a bibliophile or read a specific number of books to be a bookworm either. Read what truly interests you and take your time because reading was never a task, don’t make it one now.

10. Money is important. Money can’t buy love but it can buy happiness. But not blood money. Money honestly earned through hard work. That kind of money is good, that kind of money is required. You have a certain standard of living and if you want to maintain that after your parents stop financing you, you must make sure to earn the same. It doesn’t make you a snob or a spoiled brat, it only makes you a human aware of your wants, many of which have turned into needs by now.

11. There are somethings you just never grow out of like bubbles and glitter and your mother’s hot chocolate and hugs. Those are the kind of things that make life bearable when adulting gets too hard. Those are the little things that matter the most.

12. You cry. A lot.

But you don’t cry in front of people for their pity. You don’t cry to manipulate situations. You cry because you accept the pain. You cry because you don’t reject or lock away your emotions. You cry because your mental, emotional and physical self are in sync and that’s healthy. That’s so lovely.

13. Bake cakes. They don’t have to look pretty as long as they taste delicious. Paint canvases. They don’t have to be a master piece as long as all the paint in your hands and face and jeans makes you feel complete. Write more. It doesn’t have to a novel or even be posted online as long as it lets you breathe a little lighter and smile wider.

14. Go for walks alone, sit on the beach without your headphones, look up at the sky without a lover, buy flowers for yourself. Nature is legit free (for the most part). And it’s the richest thing that the world has. Le it bring you peace, let it help you survive.

15. Make home feel home. Sometimes you won’t have your family to make it home. Sometimes you will have to make it home by putting a part of yourself and that means investing the time, energy and money in making it feel yours, in making it feel right. It may not be your ‘dream house’, it may just be a tiny room but it’s yours. Your surroundings play a major role in affecting your mood and vibe.

16. Energy is real.

You may not know much about Science beyond 10th grade but you do know this, e=mc ² which means everything is energy, you are energy and there is positive and negative energy and you can feel it and you experience it in every person you meet, every place you visit, every room you step inside. You can and you must choose to surround yourself with positive energy. What you attract, you do get; what you attract you become.

17. Spend time with yourself. It’s some of the best time you will have. You need to unwind, you need it to re-energize, you need it to focus and you need it for peace. You can go to a cafe by yourself, write, read, meditate, talk to yourself out loud, dance in your underwear, cook and just be.

18. Take care of yourself- no one else can, no one else will. Drink loads of water, there’s a reason why more than half your body is made up of water. Sleep well because staying up all night isn’t something to be proud of, it’s stupid. Don’t skip breakfast because skipping breakfast makes you crave fatty foods for the rest of the day. Stay healthy not because you want to look a certain way but because you want to feel strong and energetic and have an active mind, body and heart. Staying healthy emotionally and mentally is just as important. So let those who want to go, go and never say yes to something your gut wants to scream ‘NO’ to.

19. Love yourself. If you don’t love yourself you will look for other people to love you. If you don’t accept yourself, you will keep seeking other people’s validation and the moment they withdraw it or walk away, you will crumble. And you don’t want to crumble. You want to enjoy the one person’s company you have to live with forever – yourself. Work on being a person you’d love to spend your life with because let’s face it, you don’t have a choice. It’s a long term investment and the only one that will never fail you.

20. In Shakespeare’s words, “To thine own self be true”. In order to love yourself, knowing yourself is very important. And knowing yourself doesn’t mean the adjectives that people use for you or what your zodiac sign says about you. It means what you know in your heart to be your truth.

One more for good luck?

21. You laughed and thought it was very witty when you came across the quote, ‘Don’t take life too seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.’

but god. Can it be any truer? Most things you’re stressing over now won’t even matter 3 years from now. But good days will turn into heart-warming memories that will stay with you even 2 decades later.

Happiness and success are two different things but remember, they aren’t mutually exclusive. At least they don’t have to be.”

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Personal Prison

The worst kind of prison that a person can be in, is a prison to self. Being in bondage to someone or something that it leaves you desperate for something or someone else. Or it also leaves you so desperate in your self, with no peace and no hope.

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How to get to Heaven in 10 minutes…

How to Get to Heaven in 10 Minutes
Have you ever really thought about eternity?  This is a big concept to grasp since we can only really visualize our world from what we see in our own lives in the time that we live them.  But imagine the 70 or so years of your life as a little dot on the timeline of eternity.  Now, imagine drawing that dot on a piece of paper.  Now, from that dot draw a line across the page and imagine that line going across the street where you are at now, and past where you can see and out into space.  Well that line of time that we call eternity is going to go on forever, but the little amount of time we spend on earth is only that dot.  So the real question is, where are we going to spend eternity, and what is it that we do on this earth that will determine where we spend eternity?  So this begs the obvious questions about God, heaven, hell, and a lot of philosophical thinking.  Since eternity is a very long time one would have to say that the issue of eternity is an important topic to contemplate.  So let’s ask the obvious question first.  Is there a God?  Well you could put up the argument that there is no God, but what if you are wrong?  Is the determination of where you spend eternity worth taking that kind of chance?

Again, we ask ourselves the question “Is there a God?   Let’s look at a simple example.  Suppose you were walking in the woods one day, and you walk up to a stump in the forest and see a mobile phone lying on the stump.  So how do you suppose the phone got there?  Do you say to yourself that there are all kinds of metals and plastics on the earth, and given enough time these metals and plastics would eventually form in the shapes of transistors, memory chips, buttons and LED screens?  So you conclude that eventually this phone would form itself and appear on this stump.  Most people would think that this assumption would be absurd.  The more likely explanation is that someone had put the phone there.  Now consider the complexity of a human being.  All of the cells, organs, senses, bones, nerves and DNA all coming together to make a person.  Not just a mechanical object , but a person that thinks and feels and loves and cries.  Would something that is so much more complex than a phone just form by itself given enough time?

Well, for arguments’ sake, let’s say that there is a God.  Now we need to think about heaven and determine what the requirements are to get into heaven.  We could say that all we have to do is live a decent life, don’t do anything terrible, and God will certainly let me into heaven because God is a loving being and wouldn’t want any good people to miss out on heaven.  But to be fair, we must also say that God is a just being, and must punish bad people for what they have done.  So, in order to deal with this, we set up a nice points system.  Do some good deeds, get some points.  Do some really good deeds and get a lot of points.  Do some bad things and you lose some points.  So go ahead and live your life and if you get enough points at the end of it, you win the big prize and get into heaven.  But what if you miss the total by one point?  You told one extra little lie that caused you to miss the point total.  Now you spend eternity in hell all because of that one extra lie, or bad thing that you had done.  What if you had a pretty bad life, but turned yourself around so that you started building up points toward the right direction.  Sounds pretty good except what if you get hit by a bus before you catch up on your point total.  Well it seems like the point system has some flaws in it, so what if we try another idea.

Suppose the real ticket to heaven is simply to be able to answer a simple question and you get in.  So imagine that God is standing up at the gates of heaven when you walk up, and he says to you:  “Answer this simple question and you get to spend eternity in paradise, otherwise, you spend eternity in hell.”  And the question is this:  “What does two plus two equal?” Well there were a lot of schools down there on earth and some taught that two plus two equaled four, but some taught that it equaled three, or five, or seven.  Well you happened to have gone to a school that taught that two plus two equals seven.  Your whole life, you believed this and never looked into seeing if it was could have possibly been anything else.  But when you answer, you find out that your answer is wrong.  Nobody ever told you that two plus two equaled four, and now you are doomed.  Similarly, you may want to think that believing in one thing or another will get you into heaven, but what if there is only one way to heaven just as there is one right answer to that simple math question?  What if the question that God asks is something entirely different?  Suppose the question posed by God is something as simple as “Why should I let you into my heaven?”  Well we know that the point system doesn’t work too well, so there must be a better answer.  Now we have to ask another question, and that question is; who makes up the rules to get into heaven?  Well, since we already assumed that there is a God, and he made heaven, and everything else, I don’t think that we can say that we each individually get to make up our own set of rules to get into heaven.  Therefore we’ll let God make up the rules to get into heaven since he created heaven in the first place.

When we think about this, we may now start to think that maybe something makes sense about all of this.  So we decide that whatever God wants me to do to get into heaven, I’ll do it, except that he has never told me what to do.  Suppose God decided that he would tell everybody one time the way to get into heaven, and people could just decide if they wanted to do it or not.  He certainly could tell everyone individually how to get into heaven, but that wouldn’t require any faith on anybody’s part.  Since God is God he can do this any way he wants, so let’s say that he is going to tell everyone about the way to heaven just one time.  Now ask yourself another question, if God came down to earth and told you the way to get to heaven, would you do it?  I think that most people would if they were able to talk to God face to face.  What if he had already done it years ago and some people told you about it, would you still do it?

So now we come to the basic question.  If you were to die today, are you certain that you would go to heaven?  That’s a serious question to ponder, because there is no guarantee that you will see tomorrow.  You could die in a car crash, or suffer from a heart attack, or some angry world leader could drop a nuclear bomb on your hometown.  Think about that timeline that we talked about before that represents eternity; if you don’t wake up tomorrow, where will you be for the rest of eternity?

So now you are standing before God and he asks the question “Why should I let you into my heaven”.  What would you say?  Well, God loves you as much as anyone has ever loved you in your entire life, and he wants you to be with Him in heaven.  He wants to give you this gift of heaven, but you must be willing to accept it.  Think of this gift of heaven as an actual wrapped present that is always with you.  When you go to bed at night, it’s next to your bed.  When you go to work it’s sitting next to you.  It’s with you day and night wherever you go.  You can open this gift any time you want, and when you do, you get to spend eternity in heaven, and if you don’t open this gift, you spend eternity in hell.  So what do you do?  This gift is called grace, and it is God’s everlasting love for you.  Why not open it?

We need to explore this gift more, but first let’s talk about ourselves, and more specifically our basic human nature.  This human nature of ours has a lot to do with selfishness and pride.  We may think that we aren’t such bad people, and we certainly aren’t “sinners”.  But think about this; how many murders do you have to commit to be a murderer?  Well that answer would be one of course.  Then how many sins do you have to commit to be a sinner?  Think about a typical day in your life.  Something wrong that you did, a bad attitude you had towards someone, or the opportunity to do the right thing that you didn’t do.  Suppose you commit just three sins a day.  Multiply that out by a typical lifespan, and you would have committed 70,000 sins in a lifetime.  That makes us all sinners.  Since God created everything, He is the definition of what is good, and in heaven, He cannot allow badness or sin to exist in his heaven.  So how can he let people who have all of this selfishness and sin into His heaven?

Like we said, God loves us, he is merciful, and he doesn’t want to punish us.  But he must punish sin.  Just as a murderer must be punished for committing a murder, we also must be punished for committing the sins that we commit everyday.  Consider that by some odd circumstance you killed someone.  By accident or on purpose, you did it.  You go to trial, and the judge finds you guilty and you are sentenced to death.  Your day comes to be executed and you go to get the lethal injection.  There are many witnesses at the execution including the judge that sentenced you to die.  Just as you are about to be injected with the poison and die, someone walks up and asks the judge if he can take the injection instead of you.  The judge says that this is acceptable, and this total stranger takes the injection and dies.  You walk away free, never to be accused of the murder again.  This seems too good to be true but what if it happened?  And it happened already, 2,000 years ago when Jesus died a horrible painful death nailed to a cross.  He took the guilt of our sins upon himself and God, the final judge, said that this punishment for all of our sins was acceptable.  Jesus’ death on the cross is God’s gift to us.  It is that present that is next to us all day long that we are waiting to unwrap.  If we believe that Jesus died for our sins, God sees us as people whose punishment has been taken care of, and we may enter His heaven.

So you think to yourself that sure Christianity is one way to heaven, but there are a lot of religions out there.  Why can’t they all be acceptable?  If you believe this, then you have to assume that God can’t make up his mind about this heaven thing.  But if we now say that believing in Jesus is the way to heaven, then we can’t say that any old belief will get me into heaven because Jesus said: “The only way to the father is through the Son.”  That means that everything else just won’t work, but why should I believe that Christianity is right and all other religions are wrong?  Well there are lots of books that can talk about this in detail, but let’s look at one example from the Bible.  First of all, Jesus appeared to all of the apostles (the twelve men who followed him closely in His last years) to confirm that he had risen from the dead.  All but one of these apostles died for their faith in Jesus, and most of them could have avoided execution if they simply renounced their belief in Jesus.  I doubt that anyone would die for a belief that they knew was false.

There is a significant amount of other evidence that confirms the evidence in the bible including confirming writings from the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, Samaritan historian Thallus, and the Jewish Talmud.  In addition there are over 2,000 specific prophecies from the Old Testament written well before Jesus’ time that predicted different aspects of Jesus and His ministry which were all realized with the coming of Jesus.  Jesus performed miracles wherever he went, and there are no first century eyewitnesses or historians who ever denied his miracles.

So let’s get back to this gift that’s been sitting beside of us all of our lives.  How do we go about unwrapping this gift so that we can spend eternity in heaven?  The answer is pretty simple and it is something that is called faith.   One definition of faith would be believing in something that you cannot see.  Believing in an event that took place 2,000 years ago would be an example of faith.  There are a lot of books that discuss the evidence of Jesus’ life and provide solid evidence as to why we should believe Jesus and His claims, and a list of some of these is included at the end of this discussion.  Therefore, you don’t have to think of faith as a blind belief in something.  But if you examine the evidence, you will find that all of the claims of Christianity are true.  Of course you will probably have some doubts in your mind about some of this, but that is where faith comes into play.  Faith is trusting God with the things that you are unsure of knowing that He will reveal the truth to you as you investigate them further.

Now it’s decision time.  Jesus is knocking at your door asking you to receive the gift of heaven.  Are you willing to accept this gift?  All you have to do is believe that Jesus is Lord of your life, ask that he forgive the bad things (sins) that you have done throughout your life, and trust that he will protect you as you experience troubles in the future.  In addition, you need to start living a life that will be pleasing to God.  After all, He just gave you eternal life in heaven; we owe Him a life that honors Him.  No matter what bad things you have done in the past, you are forgiven if you ask for forgiveness.  That seems pretty simple, and it is, but don’t stop now.  Read about Jesus and learn what great plans that He has for your life and for eternity.  Learn how to serve Him so that someday you can stand before Him and heaven, and he will look at you and say “Well done good and faithful servant.”

For further reading:

The Bible:
Try a modern translation such as the New King James (NKJ) version, New International Version (NIV), or the New American Standard (NAS).  The King James Version that you may be familiar with that has the “thee”s and “thou”s was written 400 years ago, and is difficult for a lot of people to read.  Begin by reading the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John) and go from there.   You can also look for online bibles such as:
Various Language Bibles:  biblegateway.com
Arabic Bible:  arabicbible.com 

More Than a Carpenter, by Josh McDowell.  This is a book for people who are skeptical about Jesus’ claims to being God and His resurrection.  This book discusses why Jesus is different from others who claim to be God, science in relation to Jesus, the reliability of the Bible, and other topics in an easy to read 120 pages.

The New Answers Book (Three Books 1, 2 and 3), by Ken Ham.  Answers common questions concerning creation, evolution, and other issues that often keep from believing that the bible is true.
Also See:  answersingenesis.org

Evidence That Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell.  This book discusses in more detail the trustworthiness of the Bible, historical prophecies fulfilled by Jesus, evidence of the resurrection, and other topics to show the validity of Jesus life and claims.
 
The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel.  The book discusses the reliability of the Gospel record and its details based upon non-Biblical records and other testimony.
 
Total Truth, by Nancy Pearcey.  This book answers tough questions about Christianity in relation to current world views of religion.
 
Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis.  An intellectual discussion of the basic questions of God and the universe.
 
Without a Doubt, by Kenneth R. Samples.   A discussion of God, Jesus, science, world religions, morality and other topics of interest.

www.gotquestions.org :  A web site that answers a multitude of questions regarding science, creation, the existence of God, and numerous other topics.

Questions?  email questions@heavenin10.com

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Note:
Feel free to translate and share this information as you desire.  Please be accurate with God’s word when sharing information.

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A prayer for those who live alone

I live alone, dear Lord, stay by my side,
In all my daily needs be my guide.
Grant me good health, for that I pray,
To carry on my work from day to day.
Keep pure my mind, my thoughts, my every deed,
Let me be kind and unselfish in my neighbor’s need.
Spare me from fire, from flood and
Malicious tongues,
From thieves, from fear, and evil ones.
If sickness or an accident befall,
Then humbly, Lord, I pray, hear my call.
And when I’m feeling low, or in despair,
Lift up my heart, and help me in my prayer.
I live alone, dear Lord, yet have no fear,
Because I feel Your presence ever near. Amen.

In the morning, fill us with your love;
we shall exult and rejoice all our days.
Give us joy to balance our affliction
for the years when we knew misfortune. (Psalm 90: 14-15)

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